Roberto Clemente was one of the greatest humanitarians that the sporting world had ever seen. The Puerto Rican legend constantly gave back to his community, earning love for his off-the-field work as much as his stellar on-the-field production. In that light, his family is looking to share his legacy with fans by auctioning off some of Clemente’s prized possessions.
On July 11, during the All-Star-Game’s “FanFest” in Miami, a live auction will be held for many of Clemente’s awards and other random memorabilia. The auction is stock piled with gems, from Clemente’s 1971 World Series ring to his Silver Slugger bats and Golden Glove awards; there’s even a 1966 Clemente game-worn No. 21 Pirates road jersey.
Clemente was a pioneer for Latino’s in the MLB. He was the first Latino to reach the 3,000 hit plateau and also the first to be inducted into the Baseball Hall Of Fame. He was a 15-time All Star, 2-time World Series champion, 12-time Gold Glove winner, 4-time NL batting champion, and he earned both regular season and World Series MVP honors
His legacy extended past the field and onto his humanitarian work, work that would eventually lead to his unfortunately early passing: Clemente died in route to Nicaragua to aid in relief after a tragic earthquake in 1972, at the age of 38.
Speaking to NBC Latino, Clemente’s son, Roberto Clemente Jr., said that he has no problem finally parting ways with the memorabilia because he believes it’s what his father would have wanted. “He himself always believed that he played for the fans, he played for the people. He would actually give stuff away himself all the time. It’s nothing different from what he did. He actually liked the act of knowing he could share things with his fans and he shared everything.”
Clemente Jr. went on to say that after having all the collectibles for years, it feels like the right time to part ways. “You know it’s funny, because when you know it’s time, you just know. You have so many people asking for a baseball or for something for so many years. We discussed it as a family for many, many years and made a family decision.”
Not everyone is happy with the Clemente family’s decision to auction the memorabilia, however; some believe that Clemente’s legacy should be stored in a museum or collection in his native Puerto Rico, as he was such an important part of boricua baseball history. There is also the option of the Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh, which would house the collection of memorabilia in the town where he became a legend of the sport.
We’ve reached out for a statement from the Clemente Museum, and will update this post if and when they reply.